long will Obama's self-declared mutual understanding between the U.S. and the
Muslim world last?
Almost three months after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's congratulatory
letter to Barack Obama, the new administration in Washington is set to respond
with its own 'symbolic gesture' designed to usher in a new era of détente. Pepe
Escobar, political commentator for The Real News, asks whether reiterating
Republican rhetoric that accuses Iran of 'sponsoring terrorism,' will jeopardize
the opportunity for progress in relations between the two countries. Iran,
Escobar states, may counter demands that Iran cease or change its behavior with
similar requests of its own, as has been the status quo for many decades.
Pepe Escobar: How the Obama presidency is developing its Iran strategy
As ever, actions will speak louder than words, and the presumed appointment of
Dennis Ross as one of the new Middle East envoys should worry the Iranians
considerably. Ross is the co-founder and chairman of an organization called
'United Against Nuclear Iran', whose website offers pre-emptive congratulations
to Ross on his recent appointment to the Department of State, even before any
such news was announced officially. In addition, Ross is a 'counselor and
distinguished fellow' of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,
described by scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt as 'the crucial think
tank of the Israel lobby.'
The next presidential elections in Iran are scheduled for June, and Escobar
contends that Ahmadinejad retains a 'good chance of winning', despite the
diplomatic and economic blunders of his term so far, because the specific
apologies he has demanded from the US are popular with the Iranian people.
Firstly for the CIA-financed coup of 1953 that placed the Shah in power, and
secondly for the shooting down of Iranian Air Flight 655 in 1988, a disaster
which claimed the lives of 290 civilians. Meanwhile, Joint Chiefs of Staff
chairman Mike Mullen has recently told the Jerusalem Post that the use of force
against Iran is still an option, albeit a 'last resort.' In both Washington and
Tehran, moderates and radicals are fighting for leverage in the policy-making
process, and the stakes remain extremely high in these first tentative steps
towards improved relations and diplomacy.